OHL Priority Selection Draft 2018 – Top 10 Can’t-Miss Prospects

The 2018 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection draft will be underway as of 9:00 A.M. (EST), Saturday, Apr. 7. The early rounds will be featured in the annual OHL draft show, while the later rounds unfold via a live board on the league website. Over the course of a few hours and fifteen rounds of selection, the twenty teams which make up the OHL will lay their claims to the top minor-midgets in Ontario and the northern United States. Up this year is the 2002 age group, which features a number of high-end prospects and is also a very deep draft overall.

Road to the NHL

Connor McDavid
Connor McDavid was the third player to be granted “exceptional player” status to be drafted early to the OHL. The 1997-born forward scored 72 points in 33 games in 2011-12, as well as getting the winning goal for the Toronto Marlboros in the GTHL final. (OHL Images)

Although most can’t legally drive yet, the players drafted this coming Saturday may one day hear their name called at the NHL Entry Draft. The Ontario Hockey League remains a top feeder league to the National Hockey League and consistently produces a number of bonafide superstars. Former first-overall picks in the OHL Priority Selection draft include Ryan Suzuki (2017), Ryan Merkley (2016), David Levin (2015), Jakob Chychrun (2014), Travis Konecny (2013), Connor McDavid (2012), Aaron Ekblad (2011), and Alex Galchenyuk (2010).

OHL Draft Class 2018

Top 10 Prospects – Player Profiles

1) Quentin Byfield

Position: F  /  Team: York-Simcoe Express ’02

Byfield tore up the OMHA, scoring at a pace of almost three points-per-game. He’s 6-foot-4 and is the analogous “five-tool” player, excelling in all areas of play. Watch closely, and you’ll note advanced faceoff skills along with elite lateral movement. He’s a can’t-miss prospect personified and should go first overall.

2) Lleyton Moore

Position: D  /  Team: Toronto Marlboros ’02

Moore plays the type of two-way defensive game which every team is looking for in the modern era. He’s highly aggressive with a surprising physical edge, and an elite skater both with and without the puck. Lleyton is a dynamic offensive weapon capable of end-to-end attacks. Look for him to make the jump to the Major-Junior level with ease and be instantly effective.

3) Jamie Drysdale

Position: D  /  Team: Toronto Marlboros ’02

Drysdale will be ranked by many as the top defender in the draft, and it’s easy to see why. His offensive game is assertive and aggressive, while he moves around the ice smoothly and is effective defensively with his stick. He’s another defender from this age group who can immediately make an impact at the junior level.

Adam Pelech
Adam Pelech was a member of the 2010 Toronto Marlboros minor midgets that made it all the way to the OHL Cup finals. After the tournament, he was chosen 22nd overall by the Erie Otters in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection. (Photo: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

4) Cole Perfetti

Position: F  /  Team: Vaughan Kings ’02

Cole looked dominant at times during the 2017 OHL Cup, where he played up as an under-ager. At the 2018 OHL Cup, he finished tied for third in tournament scoring. He has a sniper’s touch with great patience and composure to match. Cole has excellent hands in tight and a high level of hockey IQ.

5) Michael Bianconi

Position: D  /  Team: Toronto Jr. Canadiens ’02

With a solid frame and an imposing two-way game, Bianconi is an elite defensive prospect. He skates with his head up and is comfortable starting the rush or handling through the neutral zone. He’s highly effective in transitioning from attack to defense and makes an impact all over the ice. Michael played a huge role in his team’s 2018 OHL Cup championship, as proven by leading the entire tournament in plus/minus.

6) James Hardie

Position: F  /  Team: Barrie Jr. Colts ’02

A look again to the OMHA shows Hardie finishing right behind Byfield in the scoring race, averaging over two points-per-game. James is a very physical forward with great leadership abilities. He has a high-end skill set and the intelligence to use it effectively.

7) Antonio Stranges

Position: F  /  Team: Detroit Little Caesars U16

An early D1 commit, Stranges is an obvious high-end talent in the draft. He’s played above his age group for almost his entire competitive career. He’s a great skater with a quick first-step. Offensively, he routinely makes silky smooth passes under pressure to create scoring chances.

The OHL’s Owen Sound Attack’s general manager, Dale DeGray selects Mitchell Russell of the Barrie Jr. Colts at No. 20 in the first round of the 2017 OHL Priority Selection Draft.

8) Evan Vierling

Position: F  /  Team: York Simcoe-Express ’02

Evan is a very agile skater with strong offensive instincts. He was a consistent standout all season long and is a dangerous offensive player. There has been buzz leading into the draft that he may go as early as second overall, right behind his teammate.

9) Cameron Tolnai

Position: F  /  Team: Oakville Rangers ’02

A strong two-way forward with very high-IQ, Tolnia uses excellent head and body fakes to create space and scoring opportunities. He’s an effective forechecker who consistently causes turnovers in the offensive zone. This season for Oakville, he registered 84 points in 38 games.

10) Owen Power

Position: D  /  Team: Mississauga Reps ’02

Standing around 6-foot-5 and with the ability to skate end-to-end with the puck, Power is the prototypical defender to a lot of teams. He’s smart and strong, while his offensive confidence continues to build. Owen is yet another defenseman from this age group capable of making instant contributions to the team which drafts him.

Honourable Mentions

Jack Bar (York-Simcoe Express ’02), Will Cuylle (Toronto Marlboros ’02), Jake Murray (Oakville Rangers ’02), Michael Bishop (Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U15), Danil Chayka (Toronto Jr. Canadiens ’02), Dylan Peterson (CIHA White)

Will Cuylle Marlboros
Will Cuylle, Toronto Marlboros, Mar. 16, 2018. (Photo: Aaron Bell, GTHL Canada)